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Hundreds of federal workers in Oklahoma have filed for unemployment

It might be easier for some federal employees to get unemployment that others. (KOKH/Steven Anderson)

On day 20 of the government shutdown, 402 federal workers in Oklahoma have filed for unemployment.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says most of those cases were filed this week, and it expects that number to keep growing.

"We've seen most of the activity this week so it's progressively getting higher and higher, those numbers," said Richard McPherson, the executive director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

McPherson says they are encouraging any federal employee who qualifies to request unemployment benefits.

But some cases could be more complicated than others.

"Some people, I think, have been confused, and of course they're also hopeful the shutdown wouldn't last this long, and so there's a tendency to kind of wait and see," McPherson said. "But as the shutdown has progressed, as we get deeper and deeper into the days, now weeks of the shutdown, we're getting people who are contacting and reaching out to us and wanting to know, 'how do I file for benefits?'"

Federal workers on furlough haven't run into many issues.

It's more complicated for federal workers, like TSA agents, who still have to show up for work every day even though they aren't being paid.

"We'll continue to process their claim, and make a decision on it, so it will be up to that individual," McPherson said. "But if you're still job-attached and working, typically you would not qualify for benefits,"

The commission wants to remind any federal workers who are getting benefits that, if they end up getting back pay, they will have to give back any unemployment benefits they received.

Right now, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is still fully staffed and funded under the U.S. Department of Labor.



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